Education Key To Conservation & Sustainability
For conservation & sustainability to advance as pressing issues concerning the human race, education is critical. While that may seem obvious on the surface, here is an inspiring story that shows the power of education in action.
Juliana Ebling is the environemental coordinator for the Parque Das Aves, as well as the President of the Brazilian Environmental Educators Association, tells the story of how the Brazilian city of Foz Do Iguaçu was once home to one of the largest construction projects undertaken anywhere in the world – the Itaipu Dam. While the dam was constructed back in the 70s, even today it stands as the largest hydro-electric powerplant in the world when it comes to total power production. This major construction project rocketed the growth of the city of Foz, where the population rose from a mere 20,000 to over 120,000 people in just a few short years.
10 years later, after construction was complete, the lack of local employment created a void that was filled with poaching of endangered species, smuggling, and blackmarket tour operating. While there has certainly been destruction, Juliana has focused on giving lectures to Tour Guides, stressing the importance of educating the public about conservation issues during their guiding. Together, the guides and Juliana have noticed that teaching others about sustainability on a large scale can truly shift societal attitudes towards environmental awareness and sustainability issues.
In addition to her work with Tour guides, Juliana has also worked in local schools, creating programs to educate children about nature, birds, animals of the rainforest, environmental pollution, and other conservation issues in a way that can capture the interest of children. The result of the work is evident in the children’s comments, letters, and most importantly – their smiles.
The Parque Das Aves recently hired a group of five wardens/educators to help teach and inspire the many hundreds of thousands of visitors to the park every year. They’ll continue to be real life examples of how education can inspire an entire society to care, listen, and take action when it comes to environmental issues.